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500 richest people became $1 trillion richer in 2017; Mukesh Ambani tops Indian list

Bloomberg index says the number of Asian billionaires had surpassed the US for the first time.

business Updated: Dec 28, 2017 12:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
500 richest people of the world,Bloomberg Billionaires Index,Mukesh Ambani
Amazon chief Jeff Bezos speaks at the Business Insider's "Ignition Future of Digital" conference in New York, U.S. on December 2, 2014. Bezos added the most to his fortunes--$34.2 billion--among billionaires in 2017.(Reuters file photo)

The world’s 500 richest people became $1 trillion richer in 2017, more than four times their gains in 2016, as the number of Asian billionaires surpassed the US for the first time, according to a media report.

The increase in their wealth was largely attributed to stock markets shrugging off economic, social and political divisions to reach record highs, according to Bloomberg News.

The 23% increase in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 500 richest people, compared with an almost 20% rise for the MSCI World Index and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

By the end of trading on December 26, as many as 500 billionaires controlled $5.3 trillion, up from $4.4 trillion on December 27 last year. Among 23 Indian billionaires, Mukesh Ambani came highest on the list at number 20, adding $17.4 billion to his wealth for a total of $40.2 billion.

The 38 Chinese billionaires on the Bloomberg index added $177 billion in 2017, a 65% gain that was the biggest among the 49 countries represented.

A UBS Group AG and PricewaterhouseCoopers report said the number of Asian billionaires had surpassed the US for the first time.

Among the big gainers in 2017 was Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who added the most to his fortunes--$34.2 billion. This helped Bezos knock Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates out of the number one spot on the list of the world’s richest persons in October.

Bezos was briefly worth $100 billion in November, and his current net worth is $99.6 billion, compared with Gates’ $91.3 billion.

Hui Ka Yan, founder of China Evergrande Group, added $25.9 billion to his riches, a 350% jump from last year, and the second-biggest US dollar gain after Bezos.

Technology billionaire Ma Huateng, co-founder of the Tencent messaging service, became Asia’s second-richest person as his fortune nearly doubled to $41 billion.

Gates, 62, who had been the world’s richest person since May 2013, has been donating much of his fortune to charity, including a $4.6 billion donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in August.

Russia’s 27 richest persons added $29 billion to grow to a total of $275 billion, despite international sanctions imposed after President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea in 2014, according to The Washington Post.

Among the top losers was Alwaleed bin Talal, the richest man in Saudi Arabia, whose fortune dropped $1.9 billion to $17.8 billion after he was arrested as part of a crackdown by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The accumulation of wealth by the world’s richest also pointed to spiralling inequality, the Post reported. The 2017 “World Inequality Report” (compiled by economists such as Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez) found that the 1% reaped 27% of the world’s income between 1980 and 2016. The bottom 50% got just 12% of the total income.

First Published: Dec 28, 2017 12:16 IST